Lewis Hamilton's performance at the United States Grand Prix was impressive, considering he qualified only 0.139 seconds behind Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc's pole time.
Despite having limited time to adjust to the new Mercedes car floor, Hamilton expressed his satisfaction with the team's progress, describing it as 'one of the first upgrades that I've actually felt over the last two years'.
When asked about where the car has become more competitive, he replied: "The car feels almost the same, it's just levelled up pretty much everywhere."
This suggests that the upgrade has made the car more competitive and balanced, allowing him to perform at a higher level. In this article, let us look at the aero upgrades and what they may be doing.
The elevation of the leading edge of the floor is likely to bring about changes in the distribution of load along the fences. Consequently, this modification is expected to influence the integrity and efficiency of the vortex structures beneath the floor.
It is especially crucial to consider the load on the innermost fence to enhance forward floor loading and on the outermost fence to improve the flow quality at the rear of the car.
Floor Edge Wing Update
The increased camber on the leading edge of the wing's floor section is expected to enhance the extraction of air from the front floor, leading to a greater forward floor load.
However, it may also lead to an increase in local load through the floor edge wing. This change is likely possible due to alterations in the distribution of loading around the fences.
How did it perform – and what's next?
Throughout the year, Mercedes have grappled with a lack of rear grip due to a downforce deficit in faster corners. The first sector at Austin served as a litmus test for this issue, and while Mercedes displayed reasonable pace, they fell slightly behind Red Bull, Ferrari, and even Alpine, who surprisingly ranked third in the first sector.
Hamilton secured the fastest time in the middle sector and placed fourth in the slower final sector. We can also usually pick up hints from the body language and comments from the drivers and the technical personnel from the company.
Mercedes' technical director James Allison referred to the update as a 'litmus test for our overall direction'. Lewis Hamilton's remarks indicate his confidence in the team's trajectory, not just regarding their 2023 development but more critically for next year's car.
Although Hamilton refrained from making bold predictions for the upcoming season, he remains optimistic that Mercedes can make the necessary improvements to return to a 'highly competitive mode'. This sentiment holds particular weight, given that Hamilton has openly expressed his discontent with Mercedes' progress in the past 18 months.
In the words of trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin: "The upgraded floor appears to be delivering the anticipated results."
While the performance upgrade hasn't radically transformed the car, its successful implementation affirms that reality aligns with the outcomes predicted by the various simulation tools.
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